Receiving Social Security Benefits Based on a Mental Impairment
When determining whether or not a case will be a good social security disability claim based on a mental impairment case, it is important to keep several requirements outlined in the Social Security Listing of Impairments in mind. The following outline describes the basic components of a viable psych case, which are taken directly from the Listing of Impairments. For more information on this topic you can visit the SSAs website at www.ssa.gov/bluebook/AdultListings.htm.
Remember that for a claimant to be awarded benefits based on a mental disorder, the disorder must be considered to be severe by the SSA. By severe, they mean that the functional limitations caused by the disability, must show marked impairment in several areas of functioning. These areas of functioning are listed below.
? Activities of Daily Living
Cleaning, shopping, cooking, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, caring appropriately for ones grooming and hygiene, using telephones and directories, using a post office, etc.
? Social Functioning
Capacity to act independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained basis with other individuals
Ability to get along with others
Examples of impaired social functioning: Altercations, evictions, firings, fear of strangers, avoidance of interpersonal relationships, isolation, cooperative behaviors, consideration for others, awareness of others feelings, social maturity.
? Concentration, persistence, or pace
Ability to sustain focused attention and concentration sufficiently long enough to permit timely and appropriate completion of tasks commonly found in work settings
? Repeated Episodes of decompensation
Exacerbations or temporary increases in signs or symptoms accompanied by loss of adaptive functioning
Episodes can be seen in records that show:
Increases in medication
Change of medication
Need for more structured psychological support system
Hospitalizations, placement in halfway house
When they say repeated episodes, they mean one of two things:
3 episodes in one year
Average of once every 4 months, each lasting at least two weeks
So in general, remember that it is not the actual diagnosis that will get a claimant awarded, but the functional impairments caused by the diagnosed mental impairment. For example, Social Security will not award a claim simply because the claimant has been diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. However, a claimant with Bipolar Syndrome who has marked deficits in social functioning, concentration, persistence or pace, and has had repeated episodes of decompensation, may be awarded.
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